Guest Post by Deborah Michel

BUT DID IT REALLY HAPPEN?

 

People often assume that what happens in a novel—especially a first novel—happened to the author in real life. My husband was particularly concerned about this because my first novel, Prosper in Love, is about a young couple whose supposedly happy marriage goes south. It has attempted seductions, trouble-making in-laws, social climbing friends. If people assumed that too much was based on my own life, I was going to be in trouble. But here’s my dirty secret: Some of it was.

Have you ever heard of “alternate history” novels? They’re the ones where the plot is based on history turning out differently than it actually did—like there turning out to be lots of Hitler clones running around Ira Levin’s novel The Boys from Brazil. There’s no cloning and no Hitler in my romantic comedy, but the idea for it originally came to me when I happened to wonder what would have happened if one night my husband and I somehow failed to make up after one of those repetitive arguments married couples tend to have. (Please tell me it’s not just us.) What would happen if one time when I said—okay, screamed, “Fine, maybe you want a divorce,” and he yelled back, “Maybe you do!” we somehow didn’t end up with teary-eyed “I love you” and “I love you, too!”

Then I started wondering, under what circumstances could that possibly happen? How about if the misunderstanding started when my characters were separated physically, by a business trip, maybe? Or if every time they were about to make up, something—maybe even their own worse impulses or pride—intervened? Prosper in Love was born.

If you read my second chapter, you’ll know under exactly what circumstances my husband first said “I love you.” And yes, I had to prompt him, just the way fictional Lynn prompts her soon-to-be husband Jamie Prosper.  Like Jamie, my husband doesn’t enjoy going out to dinner nearly as much as I do. There have been real-life bad feelings between us over the importance of his job vs. mine, although to be fair I barely earned a penny as a struggling writer, let along snagging a million-dollar check for any boss of mine, the way Lynn does in the book. And, yes, my husband and I come from very different families. I’m afraid that some of Jamie and Lynn’s arguments are taken all too directly from life. Or at least from my memory’s version of it.

Are Lynn and Jamie Prosper really just me and my husband? No. They might share the raw materials—certain details, likes and dislikes—the way clones share DNA. (I guess I couldn’t escape clones after all.) However, we are shaped by experiences and environment as well as by DNA, literary or otherwise, and my fictional marriage diverged early on from my real one. At some point while writing, my characters burst mysteriously and magically into life for me—into their own lives.

Big thanks to Deborah for stopping by! Please visit her website for more information on her and Prosper in Love

See my 4 star review for Prosper in Love!

Prosper in Love by Deborah Michel

Prosper in Love is the debut novel by Deborah Michel, and I thought it was a sweet romantic gem. The story focuses on Lynn and Jamie Prosper, the perfect couple. They fell in love at first sight and are happily married, creating their new lives together. But cracks start to show when an old college friend of Lynn’s, FX, shows up and begins to stir up trouble. Before Lynn can get a handle on her fight with Jamie, she finds herself calling a divorce lawyer – only to learn Jamie has called first. The story follows the couple through their separation and impending divorce, and asks the question: is love really enough to make a marriage work?

While I thought Prosper in Love was an interesting book that explored a deep topic of marriage, love, family, there were a few flaws for me. The hardest part for me was never really understanding Jamie’s character, and how Lynn loved him so much. He seemed very controlling and it was like Lynn tried to do everything to make him happy, and seemed to forget about herself. That made it hard for me to connect with the book, but I was able to look past it because I found the story itself really fascinating. It made me talk to people about the characters and their situation, and I found myself having impromptu discussions about the book at work, home – even in the gym! That is what I love about a book. It was a little hard to understand why Lynn and Jamie were headed for a divorce without even saying really a word to each other about it, but that is something that I thought was really interesting. They were letting others – family, friends, mere acquaintances, take control of their lives. Overall, I was really intrigued by this novel, and definitely recommend this intelligent debut.

[Rating: 4]

GIVEAWAY: Prosper in Love by Deborah Michel

A good marriage lasts forever…until it doesn’t.

From the start, Lynn and Jamie Prosper were one of those couples who seem meant to be—so content with each other that they barely notice the rest of the world nodding approvingly at their wedded bliss. But sometimes, even in the very best of marriages, all it takes is a mischievous outsider to bring the perfect couple toppling off the top of the wedding cake…
True, Jamie has been working so hard and traveling so much as a young lawyer that he hardly has enough energy to show his devotion. Not that Lynn, a junior museum curator, has any reason to question it. But when Lynn’s old college friend turns up at a cocktail party, chinks in their marriage’s previously unassailable armor start to show.
Suddenly, without meaning to, Lynn and Jamie have both acquired divorce lawyers. And those benevolent onlookers—meddling in-laws and competitive friends alike—eagerly bear witness to each new misstep. Is love really enough to make a marriage last?

I have one print copy of Prosper in Love by Deborah Michel up for grabs! To enter, please leave a comment below. A winner will be chosen on Wednesday May 9. Please note this open to US/Canada residents only. Thank you to Erin @ Penguin Group for sponsoring this giveaway!

 

**The winner is Jennifer Starr!**